WRAY, CO – December 6, 2019 – The national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification is not new to cattlemen, in fact it has been in existence since 1987. The first National Beef Quality Audit was conducted in 1991 with the most recent completed in 2016.
“The nationally coordinated and state implemented BQA program focuses on all segments of the beef industry, including focused training for transporters as well as self-assessments for cow/calf, stocker and feeder operations,” says Colorado BQA coordinator Libby Bigler. “Now more than ever, consumers show concern for issues pertaining to animal welfare and environmental sustainability, and the BQA program is committed to addressing such topics in order for the cattle industry to continue meeting ever-changing consumer expectations.”
Those expectations have surfaced most recently appearing as requirements by major beef processors like Tyson and Cargill asking suppliers in feed yards and livestock transporters to be BQA certified. Cargill now requires 90 percent of their cattle to be sourced from BQA certified feeders, and hauled by individuals with a Beef Transport Quality Assurance (BTQA) certification. Likewise, Tyson requires 100 percent of cattle sourced from BQA yards, and by January 1, 2020 all cattle delivered to plants to be hauled by individuals with BTQA certification.
Although such certifications results in additional requirements, it may currently be financially beneficial in cattle marketing. A recent Colorado State University study titled “Effect of Mentioning BQA in Lot Descriptions of Beef Calves and Feeder Cattle Sold Through Video-based Auctions on Sale Price,” discovered a $16.80 per head premium result for cattle that listed BQA in the lot description. The study data was collected in partnership with Western Video Market, and based on sale prices of 8,815 lots of both steers and heifers sold in nine western states between 2010 and 2017. It is important to remember that data represents sales prior to the previously mentioned requirements by beef processors. Just as importantly, the National BQA Program has been developed by cattlemen for cattlemen and is primarily funded by the Beef Checkoff. A science based BQA program that is developed by actual beef industry producers, and one that is recognized by both processors and consumers, has immeasurable benefit. Such a program clearly speaks to the dedication United States beef producers have toward their transparency in delivering a safe and exceptional quality product to consumers.
Since BQA inception, many producers have been certified, while others have adopted BQA practices by picking them up from neighbors or local veterinarians. However, the Colorado State University study emphasized how important it is to be able to transfer BQA
Certification information from seller to buyer when a transaction is made. Being able to provide buyers with a certification number is quickly becoming integral for producers, feeders, and truckers who deliver cattle to processors. Certifications can be obtained by attending an in person training or online. The certifications are valid for three years before recertification is required. Training material is updated yearly, but major revision occur every five years after information is received from the most current National Beef Quality Audit. The recertification process helps producers reinforce their existing best management practices while keeping up to date on new practices and procedures. To get your BQA certification as a producer or transporter go online to http://www.cobqa.org or contact your local Colorado State University Extension Office.
Written & submitted to The BARN by:
Travis Taylor, Area Extension Agent (Livestock; Phone (970) 332-4151; email firstname.lastname@example.org